I once was a little Catholic girl who loved playing church on Sunday afternoons with my sister. A plain, ice cream cone…hold the ice cream…made fabulous communion wafers. I guess we’d take turns being the “priest” serving each other and saying the words we had long memorized. I’m sure we sang “Kumbaya” when we were done but I can’t be sure of that. I did love a little “hippy folk music” back in the day!
I had a period where I longed to go to Catholic school. I think I liked their uniforms. I was also fascinated by The Flying Nun and pictured all the nun teachers being just like Sally Field. Wouldn’t that have been sweet? Besides, I was such a good girl I had no fear of big, mean nuns blasting my knuckles with their extra long rulers of torture. Sadly for me, the Catholic school thing never happened. I also had visions of becoming a nun but this little fantasy clashed loudly with my desire to have a large family one day. Fast forward many years and I now have 5 kids…the nun thing never happened either.
In spite of my fascination with all things Catholic and religious as a child, I really have no memories of praying a lot. If God and I ever had any convos during my younger days, they might have gone something like this…
“Hello My sweet little Princess. I am God and I love You.”
“Ummm, now I lay me me down to sleep? God is great God is good?”
I had no clue how to pray unless I could read it from a book. Original words to pray never, ever came to me…ever.
I once was a young woman in my 20’s who still loved God , still enjoyed church…though I did go through a phase of trying life without God. That didn’t work out well for me, by the way. I stepped away from the Catholic church and planted myself firmly in a Methodist congregation. I took my young daughter to the nursery most every Sunday while I sang in the choir and played a mean hand bell. I went to Sunday school when I could get up and dressed in time. But you know how it is with young children. Mom gets dressed and ready. Then it’s baby’s turn. You feed her, bathe her and get her dressed. Right as you’re about to walk out the door, baby barfs all over you and herself. You change everyone’s clothes but as you’re doing this, baby gets that scrunchy red face that means only one thing. Then you smell it. And well….I was lucky to get to my place behind my C bell before I had to ring it!
In spite of how holy I was with all that church choir singing and bell ringing, praying was still not the most comfortable part of my day. When God and I had conversations back then, they might’ve gone something like this…
“Hello again My precious Daughter. I’ve loved you since before you were born. Like an open book, I’ve watched you grow through all the stages of your life. I have prepared great things for you my Princess. When you call on Me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.”
“Ummm, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come …and all that. Ummm, God bless my family and friends. Ummm, thank you for this day. Ummm and God, please don’t let that guy over there call on me to pray out loud!! I may burst into tears if he even looks my way! “
Breaking out of my memorized, rote prayers was still difficult. And scary. And the thought of praying in front of people like those Sunday school teachers made me want to hurl!
I once was a young woman somewhere in my 30’s, fed up with prayers written by someone else . Mesmerized by the beautiful words I would hear others pray, I was still mum with my own frilly, pretty, poetic prayer words. Why would anyone want to hear my prayers when that person over there prays so beautifully? So I guess I must practice. It might’ve sounded something like this…
“Oh Father as You sitteth on Your holy throne in heaven, be pleased to look downeth upon us, thy faithful servants and bestow us with thy most holy of blessings. Let your love poureth out on us like rays of thy most holy sunshine. …”
“And who exactly is this? You don’t sound like yourself today Child. Don’t be tempted to role play before Me. Just be yourself. There is no formula or program or technique for getting what you want from Me. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Daddy you’re dealing with here and I know better than you what you need. Because I love you so much, you can pray very simply…in your own words. “
“Really? But my words are so goofy sounding. And You! You are so awesome. I want my words to be right and intelligent and beautiful and meaningful…..”
“Oh my sweet girl, they will be as long as they come from your heart and not the mouth of someone you deem more righteous in prayer! I want to hear from YOU! YOU!! Speak to me as if I’m you’re friend, because I am! “
“Again, really? Have you heard me stumble through conversations with FRIENDS? You’re GOD!! I guess I’ll try this because You , God, really are quite fabulous. I really do love You…ALOT! I’m so thankful for all You’ve done for me. I can’t imagine allowing my son to die for the sins of the world, yet that’s exactly what You did! For ME! Wow God! I’m humbled and amazed by You! Thank You for loving little old me in spite of everything. I trust You and believe You! In Jesus’ sweet, holy, and oh so precious name… So Daddy, how was that? Did I sound OK?”
“Oh you precious thing! I do believe you’re starting to get it ! I love you so!”
“Awww…I love You too!”
Disclaimer: The words of God were not actual words I ever heard from God. But I did take some from The Message version of the bible. And I took some from my own crazy head…this is what God sounds like to me 🙂